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XV

Popular Culture

(self-released)

5


XV
Popular Culture


Hip-hop as sonic collage, as reflector of the world at large, as a musical and cultural chameleon that takes on the colors and textures of its surroundings—that’s a theme that been done already. It’s arguably embedded in the hip-hop aesthetic. Wale’s The Mixtape about Nothing channeled hip-hop’s use of popular culture through the sitcom Seinfeld and dug up a few of Wale’s truths in the process. XV enters this arena with a mixtape loaded with a wider range of references, from both film and television, spanning such recent touchstones as Inception (in the song “Kick”) and Breaking Bad (it was a matter of time before someone rapped, “I ball like Walter White”). Oldies like Star Wars (“Jedi Night”) and Full House (“Mary Kate & Ashley”), and characters like Willy Wonka (“Wonkavator”), are also included in the fun. XV goes in seriously from the opening to the ending credits, looking for his “15 minutes of fame” on the appropriately titled “Andy Warhol” and along the way convincing listeners he intends to get it. Quentin B. Huff


DOWNLOAD: “Popular Culture”


 

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Meek Mill

Dreamchasers 2

(Maybach Music Group/Warner Bros.)

4


Meek Mill
Dreamchasers 2


Forget the bottle-tossing, bloviating blasphemy charges, and budding Twitter beef with, uh, Cassidy. All that tabloid business and nonsense distracts from the real reasons behind this young Philly MC’s come up. One listen to this sequel to his 2011 mixtape puts everything into perspective. Preceding his Maybach Music Group LP Dreams & Nightmares, Dreamchasers 2 might end up dwarfing his debut. With more than 3.7 million official downloads via DatPiff, it certainly has reached a hell of a lot more ears. It also didn’t hurt that “Amen”, Meek’s quirky collaboration with Drake and Jeremih, became a hip-hop radio staple that outlasted its summertime release. Even with a formidable roster of guests including 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, some of the best cuts (“Big Dreams”, “The Ride”) feature Meek on his own, spitting rhymes while simultaneously coming to terms with his relatively newfound fame. It’s a story we’ve all certainly heard before, but that’s beside the point. Gary Suarez


DOWNLOAD: “Dreamchasers 2”


 

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Action Bronson

Rare Chandeliers

(Vice)

Review [25.Nov.2012]

3


Action Bronson
Rare Chandeliers


It’s important to note that when Bronson is on his game, I really struggle to be objective about his music. If it weren’t for my excitement over this tape, which dropped just a week before our year-end deadline, it certainly wouldn’t be included in this list. But I’ve just got to give a shout out to it because I probably haven’t heard a more front-to-back hilarious and technically sound piece of hip-hop since the glory days of Redman and De la Soul. Some find it really easy to compare Bronson to his obvious influences and degrade him for such a thing, but, look: Ghostface Killah is my favorite rapper of all-time from an entertainment perspective, so even if you want to call Bronson’s music an on-going parody of Supreme Clientele, I’m going to be there on the edge of my seat waiting for the download link to appear. Aided by seasoned producer Alchemist, Rare Chandeliers achieves something that most would never expect a pair of white boys from separate American coasts to achieve—it’s a blaxploitation hip-hop album, so full of absurd imagery and patently ridiculous situational language that it feels awesomely distinct from the rest of the landscape. Rare Chandeliers is unique, it’s goofy, and it’s a hell of a good time. Honestly, not just my favorite mixtape of the year, but very, very close to my favorite hip-hop release of 2012 period. David Amidon


DOWNLOAD: “Rare Chandeliers”


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Joey Bada$$

1999

(Cinematic/Creative Control)

2


Joey Bada$$
1999


Few would consider hip-hop’s golden age to have extended as far as 1999. By then the knock-around Brooklyn beats that defined the era had largely been phased out, replaced by more big-business bling and lush, “Big Pimpin’” instrumentation. But for 17-year-old MC Joey Bada$$, 1999 was a special year. It’s a time when his earliest memories of music are probably drawn from; when boom-bap beats crafted by Large Professor, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and others flowed through this Flatbush native’s home. Being raised on this music is the only way Joey could have crafted his debut mixtape 1999 so organically. Over 15 glorious tracks, Badass recreates these old school flavours with eagle-eye accuracy, helped massively by the dead-on production by Chuck Strangers, Bruce LeeKix, and Freddy Joachim—their work sitting perfectly next to beats jacked from J Dilla, MF Doom, and Lord Finesse. Meanwhile, Joey’s laidback flow is the perfect companion to the rich instrumentation, and he crams each bar with syllable after syllable for even more boom-bap bang. Dean Van Nguyen


DOWNLOAD: “1999”


 

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Big K.R.I.T.

4eva N a Day

(Cinematic/Def Jam)

1


Big K.R.I.T.
4eva N a Day


Thick, syrupy Southern beats. Deep fried bass. Smooth, luscious vocals from a confident emcee. Words of wisdom laced with life experience. That’s the way Big K.R.I.T. puts it down, helped along by his own precise production sense as well as his love for hip-hop, plush cars, and Southern living. And it works too, from the optimistic never-say-die aesthetic of the title track to the road-weary “Red Eye” and its muck of relationship woes. After Big K.R.I.T.‘s momentous entries into the game with 2010’s K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and 2011’s Return of 4eva, 4eva N a Day is a worthy addition to his impeccably consistent mixtape series. Cutting down on guests and features, 4eva N a Day also functions as a judicious offset to his studio debut Live from the Underground. Big K.R.I.T. makes the case for all of us who feel as though the mixtape scene is often superior to the traditional album approach. Perhaps there’s also room for a similar argument in favor of the underground relative to the mainstream. K.R.I.T. continues along an impressive path. Quentin B. Huff


DOWNLOAD: “4eva N a Day”


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